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USA Has More Open Wi-Fi Hotspots Than EU

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the my-password-is-passw0rd dept.

The Internet 274

Mark.JUK writes "Some 40% of wireless (Wi-Fi) Internet access hotspots in the USA are unlocked and do not require a security password, which compares with 25% in Europe; according to WeFi based statistics. Across the world, approximately 30% of recorded Wi-Fi access points are unlocked, while some 70% are locked. Nice to see everybody taking security so seriously, then. It should be perfectly possible to 'share' Wi-Fi while using WPA or WPA2 security measures at the same time."

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USA! USA! USA! (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694046)

Yeah, number one, baby!

Re:USA! USA! USA! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30694218)

Yeah, number one, baby!

Wait a second ... Hey, hey Mexico! What did we tell you about torrenting porn? You can use the wifi but don't torrent porn 24/7! Yeah, yeah, yeah it's always 'lo siento' ...

Re:USA! USA! USA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30694588)

Well, my neighbors have a router at home, and it's on all the time. The SSID is "linksys", but they never appeared to have an internet connection. This has happened in more than one neighborhood I lived in, here in the US. I get to access the router configuration, yet for a long time, the router has been sitting there doing nothing but contaminating the spectrum (I in fact moved them to another frequency, so I guess I did some frequency allocation in my neighborhood).

My point is, yes, there are several open access points... but yes, they are connecting to nowhere.

Re:USA! USA! USA! (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694788)

I have a tenant who is lamely trying to up the QOS on the eight neighbor's routers that he gets his free internet from, so he can drop his phone service as well. I don't know what type his router is, I tend to shun felonious operations.

This isn't a bad thing. (5, Insightful)

vasqzr (619165) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694058)

Good! The Internet was founded on free and open access.

For the first year or two I was using a (very limited) free dial-up shell. Otherwise I would have never been able to get online. I live my access point open, I've had hundreds of users over the last few months.

Re:This isn't a bad thing. (4, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694268)

The tag line for this article complained that you should be able to have open access..AND WPA2 at the same time.

I got one of these netgear ones [cnet.com] recently and it works great.

I can set up different access through it...and even click to allow guests, etc.

I have some old computers that just can't get anything stronger than WEP to run on them (an old iBook for instance), so I set up a WEP connection for them, which the router blocks off from direct interaction with any other computer on my system...everything else is WPA2.

There are wireless routers out there that do some neat things, but you gotta be willing to spend more than $20.

Re:This isn't a bad thing. (4, Interesting)

standbypowerguy (698339) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694476)

DD-WRT can do this. I use it on an old Linksys WRT-54G. I've configured two separate private subnets, one for secure connections via WPA, the other for open access I share with my neighbors. All of my PCs, including those with wired connections, exist on the secure subnet. Wireless guests get insecure access. I also have a few wired ports on the insecure subnet. Comes in handy when I want to work on an infected PC, or when I want to give a visitor wired access without them seeing my network.

Re:This isn't a bad thing. (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694540)

My friend has a Windows Mobile phone.
The phone can handle WPA2 ok, it can handle Skype VoIP ok, but it can't handle both.
The accesspoint is WEP because that still stops strangers from just connecting, signals "private network, do not enter" and meanwhile allows to use Skype on that phone.

Anyway, you don't have to have flawless protection, just better than weakest of your neighbors.

Re:This isn't a bad thing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30694794)

I wish more things would do stuff like this.

I combined 2 routers to do exactly this (one was an older one from a while back)
One secured to hell and back, one with open access.
As long as nobody abuses the connection, i'm fine keeping it open for people.
Almost everything is blocked, besides web browsing, most chat ports (IRC, MSN, Yahoo, etc), and the usual ports required for connections to work.

I'm thinking of taking it further by getting some better hardware for it.
But it isn't on the highest of priorities at the moment.
Main reason i want to update the hardware is so i can have better control of what goes through it, specifically file uploads, filters, etc.

Re:This isn't a bad thing. (4, Insightful)

onionman (975962) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694314)

Great!!

When I travel, I want to be able to go into a coffee shop, get my espresso, and sit down and use my laptop on the internet without having to hand out credit card information or any other sort of credentials. I make a point of only frequenting businesses with open access points because I want to reward their community service. I recommend that others do the same!

Re:This isn't a bad thing. (2, Interesting)

uncledrax (112438) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694858)

When I was in Frankfurt last year, i found a nice cafe near our Pension/hotel.. it was basic WEP keyed, but it was the sorta combination some idiot would use on their luggage [youtube.com] .

[ unfortunately, I can't see any YouTube iwth the full combination 'skit' in FMV, so here's the audio clip with someones art [youtube.com] ]

Anyway.. point being, just because it's "not open" doesn't mean it's "secure". They 'secured' thier Wifi as a point of precaution, but all I had to do was ask for the key and I got it in two different languages, and they were very helpful.. nor did they rotate the key out or anything during the few days I was there. True, I was a paying customer (indiciently, best non-hands-eating burrito I've ever had was in FFM? go figure..), so they wanted to be helped.

If you're legitimately trying to prevent access, putting a weak WEP password on your AP is almost worse then leaving it open because it generates a false sense of security for your network. Now if you had a low-timer rotating WPA-PSK key, MAC filtered, and didn't advert SSID, then that's a reasonable amount of security (but still not full proof, but the amount of effort goes up to breach it).

Re:This isn't a bad thing. (2, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694458)

I'd like to see support for doing this properly be more common in consumer level hardware. There are a few commercially available stabs at it(fonera, possibly others) and it isn't rocket surgery to whip something together with OpenWRT and the contents of the average geek's junk collection; but it isn't something you'll just get off the shelf at best buy.

By "properly" I mean segregation between the internal LAN, on a secured wireless link, and the open guest wireless; along with QoS prioritization of all internet traffic from the internal LAN above all internet traffic from the open wireless. I have no problem with offering my unused bandwidth in a neighborly spirit; but I don't want my wireless traffic to be unencrypted, I don't want to deal with malicious agents on my LAN, and, when I go to use my bandwidth, I want to have priority over any guest users. This is not a hard problem, technologically; but it isn't something that Joe User could set up without it being largely out-of-box default.

Re:This isn't a bad thing. (2, Funny)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694676)

It's real simple to get this included on consumer routers. Just make a command-line tool that will run easily on busybox, then open source it. Give it a real cryptic name. Linksys and the like will include it on their next router, come up with a cute name for it, and call it their own.

Re:This isn't a bad thing. (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694708)

All good points, but I assume the original poster is referring to Hotspots that you would find in public areas and cafes, not home systems.

For public area systems, I don't see the value in having free public access and security. If it's free and open, then it shouldn't be encrypted. I like the convenience of just opening my laptop and getting a connection without having to go through any config nonsense.

Of course my home system is completely secure as I want to protect my data, but a cafe owner wants to make connections as easy as possible, and have minimal costs in term of labour to maintain. This means free, open and unencrypted.

For public assess points, I'd like this to be close to 100%.

Re:This isn't a bad thing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30694924)

you should still work encrypted. It's one thing to say you trust the cafe owner with your secret data flying through their router - but quite another to say you trust every other customer on a laptop in the shop at the same time.

Re:This isn't a bad thing. (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694594)

That's the first thing I thought too, but there are a majority of people that buy a router off the shelf, plug it in and just start using it. (...I'm pointing at you Mom and Dad...) I've secured it in the past, they forgot their password so my Mom went and bought another one. Granted, they live 3 miles from the closest single traffic light town and anyone willing to drive up the driveway to get in range is willing to get a warning shot... but that's not the point.

Wifi is a convenience, and having to secure it, remember yet another password or key, and having to plug it in every time you reformat your Windows machine is a nuisance. Most people don't even use all their broadband and would probably only complain if they started noticing a slowdown anyway.

Also, the story only graphs out the first 10 countries, but they point out the US numbers... searching for hits?

Maths Lesson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30694062)

"approximately 30% of recorded Wi-Fi access points are unlocked, while some 70% are locked" thanks for the maths lesson

Re:Maths Lesson (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694084)

There could have been a "sorta locked" third option.

Re:Maths Lesson (5, Funny)

bakawolf (1362361) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694090)

WEP?

Re:Maths Lesson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30694354)

Perhaps MAC filtering?

Re:Maths Lesson (1)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694366)

Remember, mostly locked is a little bit unlocked.

How secure is secured? (2, Insightful)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694064)

One of the guys I work with used to be a "penetration tester" (paid/hired hacker ;) ) and still has an interest in the area. He showed us a map of his route to work after he drove in with an Eee with wifi and GPS attached. With a bit of representation help, Google maps and a bit of colour coding then there was a surprising amount of people using WEP. Technically that's secured, but realistically it is as good as open for anyone with about 2 minutes and the right app (saw it demoed on the same Eee).

What wired equivalent means (0)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694118)

Technically [Wired Equivalent Privacy is] secured, but realistically it is as good as open for anyone with about 2 minutes and the right app (saw it demoed on the same Eee).

It also takes 2 minutes to sneak into the premises and find an open 100BASE-TX port. Sure, you could notice the burglar, but you could also notice the unfamiliar MAC number on your AP. That's why it's called wired-equivalent privacy. The point of weak security measures like WEP is to force an e-burglar to prove his intent to sneak onto your network, at which point you call the police and/or get your lawyer.

Re:What wired equivalent means (3, Insightful)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694200)

But those two minutes for physical access a) require physical trespass, b) require you to be in a much riskier situation where you can get physically caught/trapped, c) tend to require more than 2 minutes because you've got things like locks on doors and d) require you to know where the router actually is.

By comparison, breaking WEP and hopping on a wireless network is simple, and how many people actually keep an eye on their router for rogue MAC numbers? Also, you do realise that MACs can be spoofed, so in the right situation you could potentially just usurp a machine or use the MAC of a real but currently disconnected one, right?

Re:What wired equivalent means (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30694320)

By comparison, breaking WEP and hopping on a wireless network is simple, and how many people actually keep an eye on their router for rogue MAC numbers?

A lot of us do. Arpwatch [wikipedia.org] makes it easy.

Also, you do realise that MACs can be spoofed, so in the right situation you could potentially just usurp a machine or use the MAC of a real but currently disconnected one, right?

Many of us lock MAC addresses to the switch ports. You could also use 802.1x [wikipedia.org] for even better security.

Re:What wired equivalent means (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694440)

But those two minutes for physical access a) require physical trespass

As does Wi-Fi if your building is adequately shielded. Some buildings act almost like a Faraday cage, whether the legit occupants like it or not.

how many people actually keep an eye on their router for rogue MAC numbers?

How many people actually keep an eye on spare network ports hidden behind desks and the like for rogue Ethernet adapters?

Also, you do realise that MACs can be spoofed

Yes. It's as easy as unplugging a Cat-5 cable.

Re:What wired equivalent means (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694634)

Last time I saw a residential property with Faraday cage equivalent shielding... well, I never have. Even aluminum siding doesn't seem to keep me from seeing WiFi from the curb in most cases.

Let's just put it this way: tapping into someone's wifi from the curb doesn't require exposing yourself to an ass full of buckshot.

Re:What wired equivalent means (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694444)

You make a good point, but you're ignoring that the criminality is equivalent.

Every encryption could be broken eventually, so the question is about barriers. How hard do you want to make it?

In this case, you're only making it to where a crime must be committed to gain access, and in a lot of scenarios this is 'secure enough'.

Re:What wired equivalent means (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694330)

It also takes 2 minutes to sneak into the premises and find an open 100BASE-TX port.

Not if there are no open ports due to 802.1x [wikipedia.org] .

Re:What wired equivalent means (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694488)

Wired equivalent if you want to connect up and use their uplink. Not when it's about snooping on the data.

Airodump running on a laptop in your backpack as you drink cola and read a book on a bench by the road outside is much less detectable than a stray wire plugged into your switch by a stranger who sneaked into your flat. The network card doesn't even have to announce its presence.

Re:What wired equivalent means (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694918)

If it's about snooping on the data, protocols tunneled over TLS or SSH are sufficient. As I understand it, data link security is about allowing others to use your connection to distribute child pornography or blatantly infringing copies of entire non-free works.

Re:What wired equivalent means (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694908)

In our company, our network security means that even if you did get into the building and plug directly into the wired network, you still cannot see any of the networked PCs or network drives. You only get internet access. This makes it very convenient for visitors who come into the building for the day and need outside access.

Wireless works the same way. It's secure, but even if someone did break into it (we broadcast outside the building so you can go sit outside and work with a laptop if you wanted) they still can't access any data.

Re:How secure is secured? (2, Insightful)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694162)

One of the guys I work with used to be a "penetration tester"

Boy, you set the ball on the tee, now it's time for someone to hit it out of the park!

Re:How secure is secured? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30694206)

I think you've gotten your sports mixed up...

Re:How secure is secured? (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694382)

Never heard of tee-ball, hmm?

Re:How secure is secured? (2, Funny)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694410)

She could like sports, 'ey? 'ey? Know what I mean? Wink-wink, nudge-nudge!

Re:How secure is secured? (1)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694168)

there was a surprising amount of people using WEP

Mostly that will be people with older wireless APs, from before WPA was common, that use WEP by default. Many (A)DSL routers with built in wireless provided by ISPs come pre-configured with the ISP's current standard (now usually WPA, but previously WEP was common) with the default key for the unit printed on a sticker attached to the bottom of the unit. Most people never change these security settings (hence there are many APs left with the default of no security at all) so will stick with WEP until such time as they have reason to get a replacement router/AP and the new one comes pre-configured with WPA instead.

Re:How secure is secured? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694818)

Or people wanting to routinely connect Nintendo DS? ;/

Re:How secure is secured? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694898)

Buy a second router, firewall it off from other machines on your LAN, and power it down whenever nobody is playing a Nintendo DS WFC game.

Re:How secure is secured? (1, Troll)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694978)

A videogame is a piss stupid reason to make your entire network unsecured.

Re:How secure is secured? (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694862)

A lot of the old off the shelf Linksys routers shipped without even WEP enabled.

Re:How secure is secured? (2, Funny)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694424)

Realistically, it depends on traffic. I assure you a WEP network with long key and running a low transmission (for example instant messenger + RSS + WWW surfing, vs video streaming, torrents or online games) can take good many hours to break. Speaking from experience, two lunches, four beers and about 8 episodes of Cowboy BeBop before that nice mexican restaurant became Internet-enabled for me.

Re:How secure is secured? (3, Informative)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694530)

I assure you a WEP network with long key and running a low transmission (for example instant messenger + RSS + WWW surfing, vs video streaming, torrents or online games) can take good many hours to break.

.

Good job living under a rock. ARP replay attacks have been able to break into just about any WEP network with any traffic for quite a while now. All you need is a single ARP packet and you win.

Re:How secure is secured? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30694648)

Quite true! I know in my neighborhood nearly all of the "secured" access points are using WEP. Which as well all know isn't secure at all. I've only seen two people using WPA, and I'm the loner here using WPA2.

Making yourself a *less* desirable target (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30695004)

If a hungry tiger is chasing you and another person, you don't need to outrun the tiger. Likewise, if your neighbors' APs lack encryption, you don't need to go all the way up to WPA2+802.11X because crackers will just crack someone else.

Truly Open? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30694070)

I wonder if this accounts for networks locked down to MAC addresses. I've never encountered an "open" wifi that was truly open (in UK), despite a lot of them appearing to be open, I just wonder how thoroughly they checked.

Re:Truly Open? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30694280)

Yeah that's Real Ultimate Security because it's impossible to sniff a network and clone a legitmate MAC.

Re:Truly Open? (1)

inviolet (797804) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694284)

I wonder if this accounts for networks locked down to MAC addresses. I've never encountered an "open" wifi that was truly open (in UK), despite a lot of them appearing to be open, I just wonder how thoroughly they checked.

Interesting question. I wonder how difficult it is to sniff the traffic, discover a permitted MAC address, and then simply spoof that MAC address in order to utilize the network.

Even if the aforementioned was somehow impossible, I still would use WPA2 simply to prevent sniffing.

Re:Truly Open? (0, Redundant)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694336)

It's trivial to spoof a MAC address. Those networks are "truly open".

No wonder (4, Interesting)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694132)

because, at least in Germany, you are then liable for everything that is transfered over that hotspot. If someone downloads CP or warez you are fucked.

Re:No wonder (1, Informative)

228e2 (934443) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694170)

That also applies here in the US as well . .. although some people have been able to argue pure ignorance and get away with it.

Re:No wonder (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694572)

That also applies here in the US as well . .. although some people have been able to argue pure ignorance and get away with it.

What law, precisely, provides for criminal liability to the operator of a wireless access point which is used by someone else (without the consent or knowledge of the operator) for illegal activity?

Re:No wonder (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694826)

Probably the same one that allows for a burglar to sue a homeowner when they cut their arm on broken window glass.

Re:No wonder (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30694250)

Also, Europeans tend (on average, not in every case) to have a higher degree of technical know-how than Americans, so on average more of them know _how_ to secure their access points. That's bound to skew the numbers: many people in the USA don't even know that it's possible to do this, and the WAP's ship by default unsecured.

Re:No wonder (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694386)

Europeans tend (on average, not in every case) to have a higher degree of technical know-how than Americans

[Citation needed]

Re:No wonder (2, Funny)

bsane (148894) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694468)

ROFL

Re:No wonder (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30694814)

Agreed. Laws here are very undemocratic. Can't have open anonymous Internet access. That's not compatible with our government's fear of free speech. Lobbyism of the music industry and sheer incompetence of our judges top it off.

Are there really more open hotspots? (3, Funny)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694142)

Or does the USA just have a higher percentage?

facepalm.jpg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30694202)

N/T

Intensive and extensive properties (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694278)

For all intensive purposes [sic], only percentage matters.

Scientists distinguish "intensive" properties of a population [wikipedia.org] , which hold regardless of the size of the population, from "extensive" properties, which are proportional to the size of the population. For example, in physics, density is intensive while mass is extensive. Or in chemistry, concentration is intensive while molar amount is extensive. Intensive properties, such as percentage of open APs, are more important for some surveys than extensive properties, such as raw number of open APs. Otherwise, such as if you try to compare the United States to Ireland, you just get a nearly meaningless result more or less equivalent to "market 1 has a higher population than market 2".

Re:Intensive and extensive properties (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694546)

What about variance within population densities, both between different nations and different portions of the states?

For example, any wifi up at my Dad's ranch in Wyoming isn't likely to be protected in any way. On the other hand, if you ever got your wardriving rig close enough to sniff it, he'd see you and know you were there. His dogs would have alerted him to your vehicle's approach before you located his house in the distance.

Anyway, there would seem to be a lot more rural WiFi in the US than in other places. Perhaps I should go RTFA and see if they address this issue.

Re:Are there really more open hotspots? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30694300)

Just like I've always said that the USA has just as many clever people as the UK.

Population density is a plausible cause. (4, Insightful)

Ferzerp (83619) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694242)

More people who may hop on your network and negatively impact your performance would likely cause you to learn to secure things. We have a much lower average population density, so you are more likely to be able to remain ignorant (or just not care) and leave your AP open. If I have 4 people who can see my AP, they are much less likely to wreak havok on my quality of service than if I have 50. I would like to see stats on open AP% vs population density. Of course, the article may have this info. I didn't rtfa.

Re:Population density is a plausible cause. (1)

OoberMick (674746) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694456)

Sweden and Norway come in the top ten of the chart in tfa, yet both have population densities much lower than the USA.

Re:Population density is a plausible cause. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694650)

You'd really need to look at regional or local population densities, rather than national ones, to say whether Ferzerp is correct or not.

Without nice gear, or heroic measures, or unusually friendly terrain, wifi is dodgy at 100 meters and useless at 200(numbers approximate, if anybody has something more precise, feel free to report). What matters, then, is what percentage of WAP owners/operators have other people with wireless hardware within that usable radius. If most do, the country is "dense" in wifi terms, no matter how much open land or population not using wifi it may have elsewhere.

Re:Population density is a plausible cause. (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694622)

"More people who may hop on your network and negatively impact your performance would likely cause you to learn to secure things."

I have yet to meet someone who locks down their wifi network because of concerns about performance. All of the people I know were concerned about what people will use their connection to do, and of the possibility that they will be accused of having committed some crime.

Relevance? (3, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694248)

The US also has more McDonalds, too. How is this even interesting?

Re:Relevance? (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694936)

I wonder how many of those APs were from "Free Hotspot" businesses like McDs, local coffee shops, book shops, etc.

Hmm... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694256)

Did they account for MAC filtering and(rather more importantly) all the captive portal setups out there?

Obviously, if the SSID is the name of a consumer networking vendor and the hotspot is unencrypted, somebody just isn't bothering. However, particularly in commercial areas, there are large numbers of APs that are "open" in the sense that they aren't using WEP, WPA, or WPA2; but are good for absolutely nothing except dumping you at an HTTP/HTTPS login screen the first time you open a browser. A naive network scan, one that doesn't involve connecting to every open network, and attempting a variety of network activity to the outside world, isn't going to tell you the difference.

It would also be interesting, though hard to figure out, what the motives are behind the remaining open hotspots. What percentage are simple cluelessness, what percentage are somebody having to support a legacy device with broken wireless capabilities, and what percentage are altruistic.

fago82 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30694270)

successes with the server crashe5 Nigger Association

And Many wifi open hotspots are secure. (2, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694286)

I have 2 customers that have 100% open Wifi access points that are secure. Why? you have to be trespassing even with a dish and bi-quad antenna to connect to them. and if you are trespassing, the dogs are eating your butt. Plus we used RF control devices (copper screen) to eliminate signal from going to the direction that would even possibly allow access from outside the estate. (2100 feet is the closest point and still filled with trees, shrubbery that all suck up wifi like sponges)

My home has an Open accesspoint, you have to be inside the house or on the roof to get access. I have aluminum siding and aluminum screens that are grounded. Even my WiSpy pro cant detect the signals from inside the house when I am 5 feet from the front door.

control your RF and you will be more secure.

Re:And Many wifi open hotspots are secure. (1)

gerryn (1416389) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694390)

I would say that 100% open wifi are not secure by definition.

Just curious as to why they do not put a simple passphrase with WPA encryption on?

Very good for Plausible Deniability (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694326)

Someone told me that unless you are sure that you can secure your Wifi you are best off leaving it open. If someone downloads illegal content because you haven't secured it proplerly (used WEP or a compromised key) a court will here "secure wifi" and you will probably be screwed. If you say it was completely open then it will be very hard for a court to show "beyond reasonable doubt" that it was you.

Re:Very good for Plausible Deniability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30694552)

Has this theory been tested in court?

Maybe this would work for child pornography, but you can bet that the police will want to copy your hard drive and look for evidence. Do you really want to take this risk?

Now, you say "beyond a reasonable doubt" - that applies only to criminal cases. Illegal downloading of copyright material is generally a civil issue where the standards are much lower - they go on "a preponderance of evidence".

Good luck!

Re:Very good for Plausible Deniability (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694906)

Has this theory been tested in court?

Maybe this would work for child pornography, but you can bet that the police will want to copy your hard drive and look for evidence. Do you really want to take this risk?

If you read what I said you will see I wrote "if you cannot secure it properly", which I though would be enough for people to see I am talking about people who are not engaging in illegal activity themselves.

Now, you say "beyond a reasonable doubt" - that applies only to criminal cases. Illegal downloading of copyright material is generally a civil issue where the standards are much lower - they go on "a preponderance of evidence".

Good luck!

That's why I said "illegal content" and not "content which you don't have the legal right to download". You are right civil cases have a lower bar (though tne "open access" defense might still work"), but you would still be in less trouble than if you downloaded illegal content.

And your point is? (3, Insightful)

kenh (9056) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694328)

Mark.JUK said "Nice to see everybody taking security so seriously then." Is there something inherently wrong with an AP that is connected right to a DSL (or other) internet connection to provide free access in, say, a coffee shop, library, city park, airport, or other common areas? McDonalds, Barnes & Noble, and many airports (thanks Google!) are offering "free WiFi" - by definition these can't be "closed"...

There are "wide open" residential gateways, but that number is dwindling (at least in my experience).

I work in a school district and we offer WiFi in all rooms in every building, but we have two "SSID"s - one secured (with access to our internal network, for administrators and district-supplied laptops) and one public (with only filtered access to the public internet, no internal resources available).

Re:And your point is? (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694684)

If there are wide open residential networks, that probably just shows a larger number of early adopters who got on board with broadband before ISPs started locking them down (that, or it shows European ISPs are more security conscious, rather than European broadband users). In any event, I'm not sure what we're meant to take away from this knowledge, if I really wanted free WiFi it seems a bit drastic to move to the US to obtain it! (Not least because I've been in several large public organisations in the past couple of years who had "secure" WiFi with username/passwords of either guest/guest or guest/).

Personnally (1)

hellraizer (1689320) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694340)

i whould find that very dangerous ... i know wep / wpa2 are not bullet proof , but it does keep the average joe from doing funky stuff using my public ip address. i do not want to be blamed for something that others might do ... and wep/wpa2 helps

Re:Personnally (2, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694758)

Your post raises an interesting point about the society we live in. We are so paranoid about people abusing our generosity that we actively refuse to be neighborly and help each other. I know plenty of people who use open access points just to check their email and go to a few websites, but nothing else. I know more people in that category than people who are trying to conceal some kind of criminal activity.

Frankly, WEP and WPA2 are doing more harm to the innocent people who just want to use your connection to check email than to the people who are doing something illegal. A good lawyer could argue that your open access point weakens evidence based on IP addresses, because it decouples your IP address from your legal identity, but most innocent people would not be able to defeat WEP.

Unlocked or using alternate methods? (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694346)

Have they actually try to connect to the world using the "open" access points or just discovered unencrypted networks?
Because the latter really are abundant, but many of them require special cookies, login to proxy, VPN, correct MAC address, or just disconnect you as soon as you connect, basing on some premise you would be hard pressed to divine.

Sure I -see- about 25% of open networks when I start up Kismet while riding through the town. But only about 5-10% of networks are genuinely open - just connect and surf. The rest just uses alternate protection methods.

Insecure? Who says? (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694348)

Dumb people have open hotspots. Smart people have closed hotspots. Very smart people have open, secure hotspots. Since I'm egotistical and put myself in the final category, let me explain:

My WAP is wide open to anyone who wants to connect to browse the web, check their email, etc. It's an OpenWRT firewall that allows regular, NATted access to the Internet but nothing more than SSH and OpenVPN (with SSL certs) to the LAN. I live on a quiet cul-de-sac, so the only people connecting to it would be my neighbors (whom I like and trust not to download kiddie porn), visitors, or people sitting in my driveway when I'm not home (whom said neighbors would probably take pictures of - yeah, I'm serious).

So what' s the downside here? I'm doing something nice for neighbors and visitors without any security exposure. Now, maybe I'm a unique supergenius and every other WAP operator in the country is stupidly naive, but I don't think that's the case.

Re:Insecure? Who says? (1)

xorsyst (1279232) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694460)

At least in the UK you would be violating your ISPs terms and conditions by knowingly allowing your neighbors access. Not sure what the US rules are.

Re:Insecure? Who says? (2, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694784)

There are no "UK" or "US" rules. There are agreements between people and the businesses providing services to them. In my case, I'm complying with my agreement, and still would be if I lived in the UK and had the same contract.

Default Settings (1)

Hrshgn (595514) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694350)

This difference might be caused by different default settings. In France for example, all the WiFi routers provided by the ISP I've seen so far have WPA pre-activated.

Open and closed (1)

maroberts (15852) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694406)

I have two wi-fi networks; an open connection and a private one. I live in a small village and don't mind if some hill walker uses the open one to get his mail. Someday I may arrange things to limit the bandwidth on this but haven't had any abuse of it. It is getting harder to find private open connections; a year or two ago I could wander up any street in major city and find 3-4 open connections in minutes. I believe that most wireless routers nowadays are supplied closed by default and people don't change it....

What is meant by unlocked? (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694490)

Some wireless hotspots do not use a WPA2 (or WEP, or whatever) password, but they do require a password to get past the access point's router and onto the Internet. Does this survey classify those access points as secured or not secured?

Re:What is meant by unlocked? (1)

Curmudgeonlyoldbloke (850482) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694894)

Nothing whatsoever. It's just a crap press release from some outfit that no-one has heard of before that got picked up by ispreview.co.uk and then Slashdot. Not news.

Public wireless might as well be open (1)

bkeahl (1688280) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694554)

If a network is "public" then it may as well be open. If you're going to make it available for public use, why bother with WEP or anything else? If you're going to give the key to guests who ask for it then it's like locking your front door and standing out at the sidewalk and giving out keys to strangers who walk by. Private wireless is a whole different ball of wax, but I'm very surprised anyone is concerned that a PUBLIC hotspot is unsecured.

The real reason is simple, and of course Financial (1)

netsavior (627338) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694694)

In the US you have unlimited bandwidth, choked to a certain speed, in the UK you pay for a certain amount of data transfer, and from what I understand can be charged for overages or cut off.
So there you go, I have no financial incentive to close my wireless access point. It is firewalled from my real network (I.E. my wired network containing all of my desktops, fileservers, and media boxes), is completely open... the SSID is FREEINTERNET.

of course I live in a small neighborhood in the boonies, it would probably not be so easy to siphon bandwidth from me if I lived in apartments or a city.
At one point in time I have a DNS camped EULA page that required you to agree to not engage in illegal activity on my connection before my DNS would work right (like hotels have) but my wife made me turn it off cause every time her netbook went in sleep mode she would have to re-click it.

Re:The real reason is simple, and of course Financ (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694846)

In the US you have unlimited bandwidth, choked to a certain speed, in the UK you pay for a certain amount of data transfer, and from what I understand can be charged for overages or cut off.

This isn't generally true. I'm in the UK and I have unlimited data. Many Americans have a download cap (just read the /. discussions on any OnLive story).

Population density (1)

evilandi (2800) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694732)

USA has a lower population density, so for many USAians, physical distance from any perceived threat may be sufficiently greater than the signal.

It's definitely that, and absolutely not that Americans don't read the manual or that Europeans think their neighbours are all crooks. Definitely.

I'm doing my part! (3, Insightful)

sootman (158191) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694746)

"Across the world, approximately 30% of recorded Wi-Fi access points are unlocked, while some 70% are locked. Nice to see everybody taking security so seriously..."

F U, I've been intentionally open since 2002 or so. (Basically, since I got it.) It's like, if you leave your lights on and windows open, someone can sit outside your house and read a book with the light you're giving off--OH NOES!

First of all, it doesn't cost anything to share a bit of WiFi. If someone happens to be driving by and needs it, they can park and use it. If a neighbor loses their connectivity for a day and wants to use mine, FINE, GO AHEAD--I won't even notice or care. Nor will my ISP.

Secondly: security? What security? I doubt there is a band of leet hackers hiding behind my fence trying to get financial data off my wife's laptop (hint: it's usually closed) or trying to pull my credit card number or bank login name as it whizzes by among gigs of other data. (Hint: you'll also have to crack HTTPS.)

You're worried about credit card fraud? Worry more about the 19-year-old you give your card to at a restaurant who disappears with it for a couple minutes. My family and I have had credit card info stolen and abused several times in the last decade and not once was the Internet involved, let alone hackers sitting outside our house at night doing MITM attacks. I'm more worried about an ACTUAL break-in (which I've also experienced) than a cyber one.

This is under reported (1, Funny)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694780)

With http://www.aircrack-ng.org/ [aircrack-ng.org] you can have many more available WiFi hotspots.

An alternative to completely open. (5, Interesting)

Gribflex (177733) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694806)

I moved to France last year and was pleasantly surprised at the ISPs attitudes towards sharing wifi.

My provider, Free.fr, by default enables guest access on my router. However, it's not completely open.
In order to access the connect, you must enter your account details (login and password), and then you are given access to a limited connection.
Should you not want to share your connection with other people, you can easily disable this feature; but doing so also disables your account from being able to access roaming wifi.

I really love that the community sharing feature is enabled by default.
As long as I'm willing to share my connection with other subscribers, then I get access to their bandwidth when I'm away from home. And, as one of the larger providers in the area, this means I have access from just about anywhere I go.

The US has lower population density (1)

Tweezer (83980) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694880)

Many Europeans live in a much more urban setting then we do in the US. I live in a suburb and therefore I don't bother securing my wireless. If someone wants to use my bandwidth they'll have to be on my property to do it, because I don't get much range out of my house. Why should I bother securing it? It's much more conveniant to leave it open, especially when friends stop over or I'm working on someone's PC. All of my banking etc is run over SSL so it's encrypted endpoint to endpoint anyway. If I lived in a urban setting I would probably have to secure it though since many folks could leach if they wanted to.

Open APs always make me paranoid... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694904)

A while back, during my mundane but arguably misspent youth, I set up a "special" open AP.

Bog standard Linksys box, SSID "Linksys", no security(other than a decent password on the http admin panel). The WAN side of the router was connected to the internet; but went through a hub that was shared by a box silently running tcpdump and listening...

I never caught anything all that exciting, and eventually got bored and shut it down; but it wasn't a difficult exercise, nor are thoughtless and ever so vaguely malicious youngsters all that uncommon. Ever since, though, I always experience a twinge of doubt when I see an open AP.

On purpose? (2, Interesting)

smoyer (108342) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694914)

I take security very seriously but have purposely left my wi-fi accessible to whoever would want to use it. Instead of password protecting the wireless link, I made sure that the access point was secure and isolated from the rest of my network. Want some free wi-fi? Come and use mine for free!

I'm Confused (4, Insightful)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694990)

Nice to see everybody taking security so seriously then. It should be perfectly possible to "share" Wi-Fi while using WPA or WPA2 security measures at the same time.

I take security very seriously, so my machines are properly secured for direct access to the Internet, and my important machines are behind their own firewall.

I must be missing something about WPA or WPA2 -- how can you make your network show up without the little lock icon when a stranger passes by, so they know they can log in?

Why would I want to encrypt the channel, anyway? As soon as the comm hits the Internet it hops nodes I don't control. If I want it secure, I had better be using an encrypted channel at a higher layer. Admittedly, I could transfer sensitive files in the clear on my own network, but why? I use SCP for everything, which is easy (easier, IMO, than GUI) and it is a good habit to get into.

Which all is to say: I think the "WPA/WPA2 == security" thing is a bad meme. Good security starts above the network layer, and generally can end there. Meanwhile, securing all our Wi-Fi nodes kinda sucks in terms of making the network universally pervasive.

Free the APs, secure the machines and processes.

You expect anything less? (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 4 years ago | (#30694992)

"...It should be perfectly possible to "share" Wi-Fi while using WPA or WPA2 security measures at the same time."

While it is perfectly "possible" to share WPA-secured Wi-Fi, it's not feasible, or the path requiring "minimal effort", which in many aspects of consumer electronics today, seems to be the mantra.

Also, maybe I'm alone in my thinking here, but generally if I see somewhere advertising a "hotspot", I tend to get a bit pissed when it's not easily (i.e. you connect and it just works) accessible. Isn't that the whole point of offering a "hotspot" to begin with? I don't read these statistics of unsecure "hotspots" as bad as most do I guess. I just see it as many more places offering free Wi-Fi.

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